Why Stroke? How we chose our first case
Once we decided to forge ahead in leveraging smartphone sensors to create an “always on” health diagnostic monitor, we knew it was important that we focus on a specific case, in order to create a product that provides the most value to those using it. Through our research, we came across the case of stroke survivors and realized a gap in their rehabilitation process.
Globally, stroke is the leading cause for disability, with over 15 million annual events and over 100 million living survivors. These living survivors often have to relearn to walk, talk, or move their arm. In order to do so, they are prescribed physical therapy, on average 2 hours per week for as long as it takes to improve.
While studying this rehabilitation process, we quickly understood that 2 hours with a therapist isn’t nearly enough. Patients are sent home with prescribed exercises, but no way to measure their progress or regression. The only chance they have for feedback is face-to face with their therapist. The result is a loss of hope, slow progress, limited accessibility and a worried family. Physical therapists, too, must struggle to work within the framework of clinic sessions. It is difficult to assess how a patient is healing and improving, because it is impossible to know how a patient is doing their exercises at home, if at all. It is also nearly impossible to quantify the recovery.
At this point in our research, we knew that OneStep had found its first case – stroke survivors had specific unmet needs that we could help fill.
Our team began in-depth research to determine which kinds of diagnostic monitoring would be the most helpful, accurate, and crucial in assisting the rehabilitation process. We ultimately chose gait analysis. Gait is the manner in which someone walks, and the minutiae associated with that manner of walking (weight distribution, time spent on each step, the degree to which a leg is lifted in the process of stepping, and more). To get a sense, try this: take a few steps around, and pay extra attention to the way in which you walk – and watch a friend, family member or colleague do the same – you’ll notice that there are many differences between how individuals walk – and that’s only what’s visible to the naked eye!
Energized by the challenge, OneStep set out to develop a technology to detect and monitor gait automatically and continuously in order to provide patients and physical therapists with meaningful data and feedback – and we succeeded. Our proprietary technology enables automatic gait detection through the smartphone motion sensors, in the most meaningful times and contexts. This occurs seamlessly as the user uses his smartphone regularly, while a novel triggering mechanism makes sure that battery and data consumption is as low as possible, and user attention is not required. Second, it analyzes gait in real-time in order to provide meaningful feedback for the patient and therapist. For example, it can tell the hip and knee ranges, balance and single/double support times. Simply put, it provides a comprehensive report that is equivalent to a state-of-the-art gait lab, only using a single smartphone, which makes it available anywhere, anytime.
This technology is only the first step in assisting millions of patients undergoing rehabilitation worldwide. We are already considering tailoring our product to meet the needs of patients outside of stroke rehabilitation who can benefit from similar styles of gait monitoring. We are determined and eager to bring OneStep to the international market to assist patients and therapists worldwide!